As Elmhurst product Jason Herrick enters Chicago Fire
training camp Friday, he won’t be completely unfamiliar with his new teammates.
That’s because the third round SuperDraft selection has had
the opportunity to train locally with some of the veterans ahead of the kickoff
to a long preseason.
“I’ve been playing and training up in Palatine lately,” said
the incoming rookie striker. “The other day I trained with Baggio [Husidic],
Patrick [Nyarko] and Logan [Pause]. I feel like we work well together, so
that’s a good start for going into camp.”
The fact that Herrick has already begun working on the
chemistry with his new peers is positive, but in terms of talent, the
University of Maryland alum is bringing an impressive attacking resume and big
game experience at the collegiate level to training camp this week.
One of the top college programs in the country, Maryland is
often talked about as being run very similarly to a professional club. A huge
reason for the Terrapins success has been the work of head coach Sasho
Cirovski, who since taking over the program in 1993 has taken it from
marginally successful to legitimate national title contenders every year.
“I think playing for Sasho is a great help in moving to the
pro game. He’s very passionate and we all try to go out and push hard every
day. There are some days when you’re just not right and he doesn’t sugarcoat
anything for you. He tells it to you as it is. If you’re screwing up or messing
around, he’s going to let you know about it. He got the most out everyone every
day, that’s the biggest aspect you take away from playing for him.”
The leading scorer on the top attacking side in the nation
this past year, Herrick bagged 11 goals and six assists over 23 matches, before
the Terrapins fell 3-2 in overtime to College Cup bound Michigan on December 4
in College Park, MD.
The Elmhurst native would score the final goal of his
collegiate career in that match, hitting a 78th minute equalizer to
send the game into extra time, but Brazilian-born midfielder Fabio Pereira
found the winner in the 103rd minute, shocking the favored home
“The Michigan game was difficult. We let our guard down and
they’re an amazing counter attacking team. We couldn’t put our chances away and
they did very well with theirs. It was unfortunate for us because I felt like
this might have been the strongest team we had while I was there. It was
definitely the best attacking team I’ve been a part of. We scored a ton of
goals, just the way we played and knocked the ball around quickly, fighting for
it back right away whenever we lost it, it was a lot better.”
Though Herrick will look at his final collegiate game as a
disappointment, he also has a title to tout from his time in College Park,
having played a significant role in the Terrapins run through the 2008 NCAA College
Interestingly enough during that run, he encountered fellow
2011 Chicago Fire SuperDraft selection Davis Paul in an early round match as
Maryland took down California 2-1 in College Park.
The two will come into training camp competing
for a roster spot, but as he makes the next step in
his collegiate career, he hasn’t changed the approach he’s always had.
“Going into camp my plan is just to play my game. I’m going
to keep working on stuff and the most important thing for me is to maintain my
focus and concentration every day.”
Unlike the other draftees and new signings, Herrick, who
counts the double-winning 1998 season as his favorite Fire memory, will have
the comfort of familiar surroundings during the first few weeks of training
“Since I got drafted by Chicago, I was really excited. It’s
my hometown team, a dream come true in a lot of ways. Training camp will be
easier the first few weeks while I stay at my parents house.”
Shacking up with the folks and eating home cooking sounds
like a great way to start as a pro.
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.